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In Mátìíkú, Eleshin mirrors old Lagos

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A scene from the play

The play, Mátìíkú, written by Bisoye Eleshin and directed by Adeyemi Oluwasegun Emmanuel is a story of power tussle, belief system and succession in Lagos. It is the story of an Eko prince, who, Ifa says, will be rich and famous. The oracle also says the boy should be allowed to do anything he wants but his mother must offer a sacrifice for him to enjoy his kingship.

His mother, who is also a princess, however, refuses to kneel down for the little prince as tradition demands, an act, which in a way begins the young prince’s ‘spiritual death’.

Mátìíkú eventually becomes the Eleko but his reign is cut short. He is advised to quit the throne for another king. But the wisdom of Olodumare helps the king to have a good record documented for him in Lagos history.

Before the Eleko leaves his throne, Lagos becomes divided along party line, with Peoples Union Party and Kilako Party in strong contention for the soul of Eko. But beyond political intrigues in the land, there is a gnawing problem of the disputed £130,000 water scheme fund used to finance a water project in Lagos by the British government.

Just like the present day Nigeria, where the people are divided along political, religious and ethnic lines and unable to form a common front to the determine the country’s future, the meeting on how to resolve the water problem and say no to the British Government ends in fiasco as both pro and anti government groups clash and disrupt the gathering.

On the message of the play, Eleshin said, “there are some things we need to remember in the history of our people. The Yoruba used to say ‘if an old man dies, it is like a library has been set ablaze’, so, we don’t want that to happen.

“I started collecting materials from some elders in Lagos and I started writing in 2016 and eventually finished early 2019, furthermore, I felt that we were not good readers in Africa, so, I decided to put a team together and dramatised it on stage.”

He said, “some people think that Lagos is just a contemporary city, not knowing it is a traditional enclave, which has been developing over the years. I feel we should sensitise residents of Lagos to let them know that it was once a traditional society where the Yoruba language, culture, songs and religion dominated. I feel that people who came to watch the play will not forget that Lagos is not a contemporary development as some people always allude.”

On the choice of Yoruba, he said, “the only difference between Yoruba and English language is because of the status given to English as the official language. If government , wakes up tomorrow and says that Yoruba should be the official language, everything will still continue.”

The director of the play, Emmanuel, said, “we should not be greedy. This story relates to our political leaders always clinching to power; power is not by force. People will appreciate and the total message of the play is that leadership is a service.”

Emmanuel, who is a 300 level student of Creative Art in Unilag, added, “all the casts are students of Linguistic department and majorly Yoruba. Very soon the play is coming up in English language. I thank God I was able to deliver.”


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